Flywheel | October 03, 2022
Exploring the importance of proactive maintenance and featuring the top 5 used vehicles of the week
Welcome to Flywheel, a weekly exploration of the used side of owned micromobility. Each newsletter will highlight an observation of trends emerging in the industry and feature five of the most interesting used vehicles being sold in the secondary market.
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The observation of the week explores the importance of proactive diagnostics and maintenance in micromobility. This week’s featured vehicles are an electric scooter that looks like an ebike, a powertrain kit, a folding ebike with a unique transmission, and two motorcycle-inspired fat-tires.
Observation of the Week
The importance of proactive diagnostics and maintenance
Proactively and regularly running diagnostics on your micromobility vehicle is critical to ensuring that it’s safe to ride and preserving its residual value. This obviously applies to everything you own, but it’s particularly important for micromobility given that there’s no proper testing or certification of failure modes for these light electric vehicles.
I recently hit 2500km on my VanMoof S3, and received an interesting notification from VanMoof:
The alert prompts me to get my bike checked by the VanMoof bike doctors, and it’s one that the company sent out even though they won’t make any additional money on the servicing given that I have a Peace of Mind Maintenance plan. As far as I know, VanMoof is one of the only companies in owned MM that sends, or frankly even has the capability to send, these types of regular maintenance notifications. It’s an interaction that massively improves the user experience, increases customer satisfaction, and ultimately extends the customer relationship and improves brand loyalty. Given that the vehicle OS on a VanMoof regularly sends battery and motor diagnostics to the company, it’s only a matter of time before VanMoof starts sending more dynamic check up alerts for predictive maintenance.
Regular maintenance saves a ton of maintenance costs because it ensures that problems are caught and fixed before they turn into bigger issues. A great example of this are retired vehicles from Zoomo’s subscription service that are refurbished and resold. Although many of these bikes have 2K+ miles of usage before they are listed for resale, Zoomo’s refurbishment costs on them are quite low because they regularly maintain their vehicles, and they often don’t even have to replace the battery or motor. This is also one of the reasons why Zoomo’s ebikes have a much lower degradation/mile than the market average of other ebikes in the secondary market.
I think there’s a lot of lot of learnings from shared operators on keeping vehicles in prime conditions that need to trickle over into the owned segment. An example of a shared fleet maintenance strategy that owned micromobility manufacturers would be wise to adopt is from Skip Scooters. Skip used to assign an expiration date to every single component of a vehicle and checked its health accordingly, which in turn made their vehicles much more robust/reliable and reduced Skip’s maintenance costs. With the recent proliferation of micromobility subscription and leasing services, I suspect there will be more of this regular maintenance and diagnostics in the owned/long-term rental segment since the subscription providers are strongly incentivized to make sure their vehicles remain in good condition with a high residual value for their second life.
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Top 5 Vehicles of the Week
The JackRabbit is an electric scooter perfect for <5 mile urban trips. Although it may look like an ebike, the JackRabbit is technically classified as an electric scooter because it is throttle powered and has no pedals. The powertrain is modest (300W rear-hub motor and 158Wh battery pack) yet perfectly zippy for a vehicle of this size. The vehicle can fold to be completely flat and is incredibly light at ~23lbs. There’s only one disc brake on the rear wheel, but this isn’t really a concern since most of the weight when riding sits above the rear wheel. The JackRabbit is an interesting hybrid of the frame geometries of scooters and ebikes. It’s small and portable like a scooter but is seated and has bigger tires like an ebike. Pedal-less, seated light electric vehicles run into some regulatory gray areas, but the rules around pedal requirements are frankly arbitrary and outdated and these types of ebike-esque middle ground vehicles will be critical to bringing new cohorts of riders to micromobility. This listing is in like new condition (Flywheel estimates <200 miles). Listing can be found here.
The Bafang BBSO2 is an ebike conversion kit with a motor and battery pack. The BBSO2 is one of the most popular powertrain kits amongst DIY ebike builders due to its versatility, and it’s one of the only mid-drive ebike kits in the market. The kit features a motor with a shockingly powerful 120Nm of torque (higher than the torque of most factory ebike powertrains) and a 624Wh battery pack. Riders can program the motor at an extremely granular level, with the options to tweak max power, throttle behavior, acceleration profiles, assist levels, and many other settings. That being said, properly installing a mid-drive that is this configurable is extremely challenging, and it’s best to go to a bike shop to install the kit for you. Bafang is highly reputed for its build quality and is one of the two largest powertrain suppliers for ebikes (alongside Bosch). Given its price point, it dominates the middle price range of vehicles in the owned segment and is frequently found on shared vehicles. This listing is almost new, the motor has never been used and the battery has only been charged once for testing. Listing can be found here.
The Honbike HF01 is arguably the most technologically advanced class-1 folding ebike on the market. Instead of using a belt or chain in its transmission, the HF01 uses a shaft drive since it requires much less maintenance. In fact, Honbike rates the shaft drive on the HF01 for 50K+ km. The frame geometry is also exceedingly unique: the unibody magnesium wheels are each only supported on a single side, the frame folds in an origami-fashion, and even the seat and brake levers have been redesigned. For the electronics, the HF01 has a cadence and torque sensor to inform the pedal assist and a gyroscope that is used to give riders extra motor power when riding uphill and shut off the motor when the vehicle is tilted more than 30°. Although its powertrain is quite weak (60Nm rear-hub motor, 216Wh battery pack, max speed of 15.5mph), the novel design and compact form factor of the HF01 make it a compelling and eye catching urban commuter. This listing is less than 3 months old and has a Flywheel-estimated 500 miles of usage. Listing can be found here.
The Super73 Scout is a class-2 scrambler and one of Super73’s original models. A year after Super73’s blockbuster Kickstarter campaign for their very first ebike, the company launched the Scout as an upgraded and more affordable version of the initial model. With a 500W hub motor and ~400Wh battery pack, the Scout featured a beefy powertrain that combined well with fat tires to give riders their first taste of a scrambler ebike. The affordable price point and unique motorcycle-esque design of the Scout made it a trailblazer in the industry that popularized the viral Super73 brand. This listing has been ridden 10 times, and is an opportunity to buy a rare vehicle that is no longer available new. Listing can be found here.
The Revi Bikes Cheetah Cafe Racer is a class-3 ebike inspired by the iconic café racer motorcycles of the 1970s. Revi Bikes is well known for its fat-tire ebikes, but its Cheetah stands out as having the most memorable design and best rideability. The Cheetah’s powertrain features a 90Nm rear-hub motor and 840Wh battery pack. Both are beautifully and stealthily integrated into the frame. I particularly love how the battery pack is integrated into the frame to mimic a gas tank. Even the integrated headlight look like the headlights of a classic motorcycle. Even though the listing is in like-new condition and has a Flywheel estimated mileage of <200 miles, it is extremely odd that it is posted for $1,250 more than MSRP and almost $1,500 more than the average resale price of this model. Listing can be found here.
That’s it for this week. Thanks again for joining, see you next Monday!
- Puneeth Meruva
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